Ranking Higher Educational Institutions

Ranking higher educational institutions
Ranking higher educational institutions
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

Ranking higher educational institutions such as universities is a crucial task. It entails one’s thinking on how to rank the universities. What should be the criteria— results, research, number of students, size of the university, infrastructure, quality of teachers or students, graduated students’ employment history, the age of the university should come under ranking criteria. To rank a university these points need to be taken into consideration very critically or some of these in a cluster to be considered. These criteria differ from university to university and from public to private universities.

However, the ranking has to be done with a view to developing the standard and quality through competition, which remains quite absent at present. University Grants Commission should shoulder the vital task regarding this issue. Actually, the question arises of what the UGC does in connection with ensuring the quality of education of the universities. A strong body comprising education experts of various levels and categories needs to be established as a third eye to monitor the overall performance and general activities of the universities. The topmost importance should be given so that no political colour can touch the body. But how far can it be ensured?

According to the survey/research of The Times Higher Education (THE), the top two hundred universities have been identified on thirteen criteria. Unfortunately, none of these two hundred universities exists in the South-Asia, let alone Bangladesh. Top of the list stands Harvard University, the second position goes to California Institute of Technology, third Massachusetts Institute of Technology, fourth Stanford University and fifth category go to Princeton University. It is more interesting than all the top five universities stand in the United States. 

Oxford and Cambridge occupy combine the sixth position. In the Asia University of Hong Kong tops the list but it stands 21st in the world standard. The Second Asia University of Tokyo, third Pohao University of South Korea, fourth National University of Singapore and the fifth Peking University of China. All these universities fall between 25 and 35th in the global ranking.  The universities which publish less than fifty articles in the international standard journal have not been counted. None of the universities of Bangladesh stands even in the 1000th in the global ranking. What a shame for us. I don’t know whether it will sensitize the authorities concerned of the educational arena or not. It clandestinely shows how much less importance is given to research in our universities. Importance is given whether students have gone to welcome our leaders coming from foreign visit contributing to already unbearable traffic jam. When students don’t go there due to their examinations and other appointments they are detained by the student cadres of a particular party.

How beautiful! Being a citizen of an independent country and studying in the highest seat of learning is to endure the detention of unruly student cadres, then there remains no place in the world to show the face. Definitely, the position of our universities will stand hundreds of miles away from the world ranking. Yes, our universities would occupy the top ten rankings if the criteria reverse. The contribution of present-day student politics and how strong and expert our students are in using various sorts of arms including local ladies and also toll collecting from various sources to fatten their income.  Some of our leaders once expressed that our student organization is enough to face the opposition. How beautiful! It is true that in many western countries political parties have research wings comprising of party intellectuals. On the basis of their research party decisions are made. What happens in our country?

There is no particular ranking among the private universities in Bangladesh, not among the public universities. Comparatively sound academic atmosphere prevails in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and almost uniformed quality of students get admission here who value more academic affairs than political games in the campus. And the general universities more or less get plagued with various ills mostly originated from student politics. University Grants Commission conducted a ranking survey in 2004 only in private universities which ranked North-South University as first. But it hardly imprints any significance as the general beliefs and notion convince us all that North-South  University occupies the first ranking university because of its academic excellence, faculties and brilliant productions. Another one is vying with North-South that is BRAC University.

The Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings system published their annual ranking result for 2010-2011 on September 16 in collaboration with new ranking data provider Thomson Reuters. They collected data from more than 50 leading figures in the sector from 15 countries across every continent and through ten months of extensive consultation. The guiding principles THE followed in ranking the world universities are—–Teaching: the learning environment worth(30%) of the overall ranking score, Research: Volume, income and reputation (worth 30%), Citation: research influence (worth 32.5%)Industry income: innovation (worth(2.5%) and International mix: students and staff worth 5%. Scoring should be:

-on research and innovative activities
–on the quality of teachers
–on the number of students admitted each year
–on campus quality and status (including libraries and all other facilities
-overall score  ( DS Oliur Rahman September 24, 2010)

I think students’ employment status in the job market should be taken into consideration. Student’s entering the job market for the last five to ten years must be taken into consideration as it amply indicates the standard and imparting knowledge to the learners by the universities keeping pace with the present-day world. Number of unemployed and low-employment matters much to the ranking

Once cadet college authorities expressed their dissatisfaction over not the brilliant cadet’s joining the armed forces and commented that cadet colleges were not coaching centres. Coaching centres just prepare the students for the examinations but educational institutions give holistic education to the learners, which contribute to their mental and psychological development. So, only result in that means how many first classes or higher grades have been awarded to the learners may not be the only standard to rank the universities. Most of our private universities impart just the commercial subjects without giving them education in humanities. They don’t study literature or social science or science, just BBA and MBA and subjects like this, which can make a learner a businessman or business dealer, not a holistic man. Ranking the universities must receive these points.

With possible exception, our private universities don’t have any open campus to practice any physical games or sports or any kind of outdoor games and to roam about in the campus freely. Library facilities, gymnasiums, open theatre stages prove to be absolutely absent phenomena in private universities which the ranking between public and private universities, therefore, tend to be different.

Ranking of universities on some set and assumed criteria should be the order of the day. Private universities have mushroomed to respond to the fast-expanding demand of tertiary level education without hiding some commercial or social status purpose may have the secret reason behind it. Different authorities to make regular surveys on academic and higher education-related activities need to emerge or to address the ebbing trend of quality education and hence creating competition among private universities. The set criteria must be well known to all so that any kind of lobbying and influencing and even corruption cannot happen when the ranking will be done. Maintaining discipline in the campus must stand as one of the significant factors of ranking a university as a discipline plays a key role to ensure a sound academic environment. In a chaotic campus, students cannot give full attention to the acting of learning. Rater stands in the way of imparting education normally.

BRAC offers a scholarship to poor but meritorious students. So far it has distributed ‘ Medhabikash’ scholarship to twelve hundred students since its inception in 2005. On the basis of experiences gained through the process, BRAC has decided to expand its scholarship program along with increasing the amount. Necessarily it is felt the amount of scholarship should vary according to the educational institutions students belong to. Hence, ranking plays a key factor. The Director of the BRAC Education Program, Dr. Safiqul Islam, asked us to submit him the ranking of the higher educational institution of the country which really has thrown us into a perplexing situation as no such ranking has been done reasonably. It is greatly felt that it should have been.

It has been greatly felt that there must be a body or an organization to rank the higher educational institutions in the country, which should carefully and reasonably know how to differentiate between the technical such as BUET, KUET, CUET, RUET and general educational institutes. Then again medical colleges and agricultural universities and colleges and the general colleges offering honours courses should have a separate ranking system.  Until and unless the ranking is done nothing is understood which institution is teaching what and what sort of or amount of contribution it is giving to the nation.

Very much traditionally educational institutions are being run year after year without any definite aims and objectives. No responsibility rests upon anybody. No competition among the institutions as it is found in the private schools and colleges and accordingly they vie with each other promising to offer better education and educational facilities. In respect of university and colleges, such arrangements and competition must bring the desired result. Under the initiative of the Ministry of Education, an independent body must be formed to rank the higher educational institutions of the country on the basis of complex issues keeping the dividing line between private and public, college and universities.

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as an Education Expert in the BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and President of the English Teachers' Association of Bangladesh (ETAB), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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